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Clelin Ferrell: 3 improvements the Raiders DE must make this offseason

Clelin Ferrell, Raiders

When the Oakland Raiders used the fourth-overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft on Clelin Ferrell, they were expecting him to be a disruptive force immediately. Unfortunately, the Clemson product failed to translate his game to the NFL in his rookie season.

In the event that a player is taken early in the first round, there are sky-high expectations for him to perform well. But for Ferrell, he managed to total 38 tackles, 4.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss, and eight quarterback hits.

During his time at Clemson, Ferrell became one of the best pass-rushing prospects available in the draft. Over his three years as a starter in college, Ferrell combined for 27 sacks, 50.5 tackles for loss, and five forced fumbles.

Given those numbers, it was surprising to see the rookie defensive end struggle in his first season as a pro. Nevertheless, here are three improvements that the Raiders’ defensive end can make this offseason.

3. Get Even Better as a Run Defender

While Ferrell fell short as a pass rusher in his first season, he proved he can be a formidable run defender. With the addition of Ferrell in 2019, the Raiders actually became one of the best run defenses in the entire league.

Just a year ago, the Raiders had the 30th ranked run defense in the NFL that surrendered 140.6 yards per game. As of this season, Oakland gave up only 98.1 yards per game (eighth-fewest in the NFL).

One of the main reasons for the run defense taking a massive leap in 2019 is due to Ferrell’s edge presence. The 22-year-old defensive end can get even better as a run defender, which should put a smile on Jon Gruden’s face.

2. Work on Becoming More Versatile as a Pass Rusher

Again, at Clemson, Ferrell flashed plenty of potential as a talented pass rusher. But with the Raiders, his game didn’t seem to translate to the field consistently, and it was evident he’s going to need to work on his game.

Even though he was fantastic versus the run, he only managed to tally 4.5 sacks and just 26 pressures in 2019. Taking into consideration where he was selected in the draft, those numbers are a bit disappointing.

After the final game of the season, Ferrell vowed to come back as a better player in 2020. For him to do so, he’ll need to become a more versatile pass rusher as the Raiders make the move to Las Vegas.

1. Return to Being an Explosive Player

One of the positive aspects of Ferrell’s game in college was his explosiveness. The 6-foot-4 defensive end was quick to get off of the ball and was able to terrorize opposing offenses because of it.

However, in his first year as a pro, Ferrell failed to display the explosiveness that he exuded at Clemson. With a whole offseason to improve his game, the young edge defender can spend time becoming explosive again.

At the least, Ferrell has shown that he’s capable of being a quick and athletic player off of the edge. If he becomes the pass rusher he once was, the Raiders will have themselves a cornerstone on the defense for years to come.